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Therm-a-Rest celebrates 50 years of sleeping under the stars

January 26, 2022

Media Contact

Becca Katz
Verde Brand Communications
C. 360-441-5620


The iconic outdoor brand celebrates its 50th anniversary with a continued commitment to innovation and helping people sleep more comfortably under the stars.

Therm-a-Rest® has been leading the industry with award-winning outdoor sleeping gear since 1971 when it introduced the first self-inflating sleeping pad to the market. In 2022, the iconic outdoor brand celebrates its 50th anniversary and five decades of industry-leading innovation and helping people better enjoy the outdoors. 

Jim Lea, one of three Therm-a-Rest founders, invented the first self-inflating sleeping pad in 1971. A year later, in 1972, Therm-a-Rest was founded by Jim Lea, John Burroughs and Neil Anderson – three former Boeing engineers from Seattle, Wash. Inspired by a foam gardening pad, the three founders set their sights on a more comfortable night at camp and forever changed how we experience the outdoors. 1972 marked the beginning of a five-decade long run of industry firsts, including: 

  • 1986: Therm-a-Rest brought the ultralight and ultra-durable RidgeRest® mattress to market. Three years later in 1989, Therm-a-Rest introduced the slightly lighter and more compact Z-Rest® [now the Z Lite and Z Lite Sol] to the line. It remains the go-to closed-cell foam pad for hikers seeking ultralight comfort.
  • 1996: Therm-a-Rest builds an in-house Cold Chamber to accurately test and measure the R-value of its sleeping pads and the warmth ratings of its bags. The in-house testing facility is the only one of its kind owned and operated by an outdoor gear manufacturer.  
  • 2009: Therm-a-Rest introduces the game-changing NeoAir® technology, the single greatest innovation in outdoor sleep comfort since the original Therm-a-Rest pad. The patented Triangular Core Matrix technology delivers the best warmth-to-weight ratio in sleeping pads today. 
  • 2011: Sleeping bags were re-introduced to the line along with many new design features including ThermaCapture™ technology, Toe-asis™ foot warmer pockets, Zoned Insulation and SynergyLink™  Connectors. 
  • 2020: WingLock™ and TwinLock™ valves are developed to make the inflation and deflation of sleeping pads faster and easier than ever.

Over the last 50 years, Therm-a-Rest’s team of brilliant designers and product engineers have been awarded top accolades from Outside Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Popular Science, Outdoor Gear Lab and many more. Backpacker Magazine called the self-inflating pad “one of the five best outdoor inventions of all time” and Outdoor Magazine included the self-inflating pad on its list of “the most influential gear of all-time.” 

A key differentiator that sets Therm-a-Rest apart from its competitors is the fact that all of its pads are made in-market – in Seattle, Reno or Midleton, Ireland. Having  products built in-market allows Therm-a-Rest to maintain greater quality control and has benefits in terms of innovation, quality and sustainability – three pillars Therm-a-Rest is committed to as it looks forward to the next 50 years. 

“When I think about Therm-a-Rest 50 years from now, I imagine a brand that is continuing to lead the industry in terms of innovation and technology, but I also imagine a brand that is more committed than ever to its people and planet,” explains Erik Flink, VP of Marketing at Cascade Designs, the parent company of Therm-a-Rest. “As a company we need to commit directly and indirectly to creating opportunities for more people to experience the outdoors, including boosting diversity in the outdoors. We also have a strong commitment to be stewards of the environment, in both the gear we make and the conservation organizations we partner with. This is about creating something bigger than us. It’s about affecting change and leaving the world a better place than we found it.” 

Therm-a-Rest will be celebrating its milestone birthday throughout 2022 with new gear launches, giveaways and donations to its favorite conservation and advocacy organizations. The celebration kicks off with an Instagram giveaway that runs through January 28. One lucky winner will win two Therm-a-Rest sleep systems by posting a photo or video showing off how they are #SleepingRad with Therm-a-Rest. For more information about the giveaway, visit Therm-a-Rest’s Instagram.   

For more information about Therm-a-Rest’s 50th anniversary, including its spring 2022 line of new ultralight sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and award winning gear from throughout the years, visit

About Therm-a-Rest®
Our founder’s mission was simple: create a better way to sleep outside; because when you rest better, you play better. Their ingenuity and vision back in 1972 led to the creation of the first self-inflating sleeping pad. Today, we’re still working towards the same mission to craft the best sleeping pads and bags on the market. For more information, visit